Lessons Learned from the Most Energy-Efficient Companies
When top businesses decide to invest in a single idea, products, services, and institutions usually follow. Businesses are making an important decision to invest in energy efficiency. Knowing which businesses are choosing to be more energy efficient and identifying how they’re doing it can help determine the value for your business or your home.
Lesson 1: Energy Efficiency Is Worth the Investment
Natural gas and electricity—energy—is critical to keep American businesses operating and many executives believe energy expenses are rising. In light of this awareness, more and more executives are being motivated to invest in energy efficiency.
Beyond the simple math of expenses, equipping the standard commercial building with energy efficient devices is a sound idea for the future. Many of the steps taken to become more energy efficient are the same steps that make a business ready to trade in their rooms of bulky servers for the cloud, part of the Internet of Things, and update to the latest grid developments. In many ways, NOT moving toward energy efficiency will soon mean not moving at all.
Installing smart thermostats, grid-interactive devices, and cloud-based servers are some of the first and easiest ways to increase your business’s energy efficiency. Determining how much to invest can depend on a number of things such as:
- If you are already planning a remodel or upgrade
- If your business needs or wants to be an early adopter of technology
- If your business is serviced by a utility who offers incentives for energy efficiency
- If you are already investing more than what is reasonable in energy for your business
Do your research to determine how much is the right amount for your business to invest in energy efficiency. A business can see a return on investment with even the smallest changes. LED bulbs for lighting, programmable thermostats, ENERGYSTAR monitors and computers, and adding weather stripping and insulation can all yield convincing results almost immediately.
Lesson 2: Energy Efficiency Starts With Data
Before any of the suggested first steps are taken, it is important to set a baseline from which to measure any change in overall efficiency. So, to determine a means of becoming more energy efficient, companies need to know how efficient their current usage is. This can be done through an audit of past utility bills, a review of energy expenditures, and documenting the ages of equipment and software being used.
There are also several tools and services that can help you gather this data and analyze your current state of energy efficiency. Energy.gov has a number of calculators that help determine the energy efficiency of products you currently use and many energy companies will offer energy audits to get you started.
Lesson 3: Energy Efficiency Doesn’t Have to Be a Product
As you gain efficiency through the use of more efficient products, it’s important to note that becoming energy efficient isn’t just a matter of amassing new gadgets. It’s true that many companies produce energy efficient products—an effect of the shift in economy we looked at earlier. And though you may share the values of these companies, you don’t have to invent a new product to be an energy-efficient business. But if you are in an industry that is looking to innovate, take a cue from this list of energy-efficient product companies.
Rather than a mere product or innovation, energy efficiency is a mindset: redistributing work to use fewer resources is a move toward efficiency; minimizing unnecessary steps in processes is efficient; using sustainable methods for how the business runs is energy efficient. It is in this mindset where energy efficiency, sustainability, and green collide.
Pushing the envelope with how a business is run—what methods you use to produce your products or services—can make the difference in your businesses overall energy efficiency. Like these companies who were considered green in 2016, it all stemmed from a mindset to be smart about how to manage and use resources.
Lesson 4: Set Specific Energy Efficiency Goals for Your Business
Deciding to become an energy efficient business in the first place is a great step, but it won’t ensure that your business truly is efficient. To make the move toward energy efficiency, set realistic and specific goals for how you plan to achieve energy efficiency, and lay a foundation of success for your business.
Setting one or two goals, around how you plan to become energy efficient, allows you to gain company buy-in and focus on something realistic and attainable. Be as specific as possible in the steps you need to take so you can cut a clear path for everyone involved.
Becoming a Certified Green Business
An example goal for your company might be to become a certified green business, but the specifics of that goal are a little more involved than that:
- Research the requirements or steps to take to be a green business
- Provide a short list of certified green businesses to emulate
- Start taking small energy efficiency measures in your daily operations
- Make a chart of your success to encourage employee participation
- Enroll to be certified with the Green Business Bureau when you’ve reached your goal
By setting these realistic goals and working toward them, you are building a mindset of energy efficiency that will make your business better across the board.